The St Andrews Men’s 6s Football Team is set to face new internal and external challenges ahead of their upcoming slate of fixtures for the 2020-2021 season. Last year, the side proved their ability and resilience, tying the all-time league points record for their squad, despite the loss of star forward James Luk halfway through the season. This year much of the team has been re-designed. However, it remains built around a core of veteran players under the guidance 2nd year manager Matthew Porteous.
Captain Gavin Irvine is surely to one of the most important players in this year’s squad. Last year’s Vice-Captain and top goal scorer has now been tasked with leading the young and unruly team. He is known for his loud voice and tall stature, making him a threatening figure on the pitch. A big personality, he has never refrained from speaking his mind, even if it gets into the heads of other players. However, his leadership style is generally embraced and loved by his teammates. Fellow forward Benjamin Avery has noted that he has “taken his confidence and loudness and learned from it,” and that he benefits greatly from Gavin’s role as a “mature, veteran figure.” Irvine wants his energy to be reciprocated by the rest of the team, noting that he loves it when the squad “takes ownership of practice and demand high standards from one another.”
Up front Irvine and Avery will be accompanied by returning players Harry Hampton and Eric Long, alongside the new signing Alfie Barnes. This group will look to rely on their pace get in behind opponent’s defences. Hampton, known as the ‘70th minute specialist,’ was one of the fastest players in the league last season, and now accompanied by a healthy Avery and speedy Barnes will likely terrorise opponents’ defences. In the middle, they are complimented by Long and Irvine’s deadly positional awareness, which was displayed through Irvine’s impressive goalscoring performance against Dundee 4s last year.
In midfield the 6s are preparing to sport a new look position group, with only one returning player, Angus Black. Nevertheless, the 6s midfielders have the potential to be the best the side have ever featured. Besides Black, freshers Jack Light and Sean Omoseni look to bring their own unique style to the pitch. Light, an academy product out of Lewisburg, West Virginia has proven his worth in training with his sharp shooting ability. Omoseni, hailing from Ontario, Canada, has also impressed in training. Irvine has noted that he is one of the most promising freshers in the squad, saying Omoseni will be “crucial in our success.” If the 6’s midfield can gel correctly under Porteous’ system, they could be a crucial compliment to the veteran front line above them.
Defensively, the 6s are anchored by veterans Faysal Kharraz, Ollie Hunt, Pascal Pichon Marquette and Stuart Mitchell. They have been built upon by the additions of Seyi Fatona, Alfie Gardner, and Nathan Tsang. The competition for places brought about by the new defensive additions has served as a motivation for the returning players and will create a headache for Porteous when it comes to selecting his side for the first match. Tsang has especially impressed in training, with Irvine noting that he looks forward to seeing him “lay the wood on some unsuspecting lad in a game.” Nevertheless, it is up to Kharraz to command the defence from the centre, with his leadership necessary for the group the to play to their best. The 6s’ defence looks to be one of its most promising position groups this season.
Ultimately, the success of the 6s’ season will come down to their ability to form a cohesive unit between the returning players and this year’s new signings. While the talent is there, the squad needs to buy into Porteous’ system and philosophy. If they can manage this, the 6s will likely build on their success from last season and may challenge the St Andrews 4s and 5s for the league title. Overall, the St Andrews Men’s 6thFootball Team has significant potential for success if they can play cohesive, team-oriented football.